Before partnering with a design services firm, the chip company should have assessed whether it has business acumen, competency and a proven track record of success, and references to prove all three. A sure sign of a design services firm's abilities is if it takes a solutions-based approach. That signals openness and accountability, something Amazon has as well.
During the review stage, the chip company should be provided with a detailed proposal, complete with a breakdown of activities and resources, including management overhead. The proposal should cover schedule, critical review points and all assumptions about customer-supplied data that will impact the schedule.
After eight years of assessing the market dynamics, I have concluded that the ideal design services partner should have a flexible turnkey design services model focused on fast turnaround and lower costs. Aligning the chip company's project team with the design services firm's team moves them toward the common goal of delivering a successful chip project. If done correctly, the two teams quickly become one team working closely together, communicating effectively and problem solving.
Chip companies need to reconsider their engagement policies as well. Design services firms are not job shop or contractor outsourcing providers and should not be treated as such. By treating them as a partner, they will have a vested interested in the success of the project, upending world of design services once and for all.
By giving customers more of what they want—low prices, vast selection, and convenience—Amazon.com continues to grow and evolve as a world-class e-commerce platform. Isn't that what a design services provider should offer as well?
Josh Lee is president and CEO of Uniquify Inc., a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of SoC design and IP solutions.